Life on Purpose
Ripe and Ready...Are You?
by Brad Ransom
Jesus said, “Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your
eyes, and look on the
fields; for they are
white already to
harvest.” (John 4:35)
Free Will Baptists are a diverse group of people. We debate several issues among our ranks, including eschatology, but at the end of the day we agree on what’s most important, the common belief that Jesus’ return is imminent.
Sometimes, I wish I knew exactly when Jesus was coming back. Some have tried to predict the day and time (which we know is impossible) but the bottom line is that we need to live every day like it is the last day before He returns. If we really lived like that, how would our lives be different? Let me suggest a few things:
We would witness more. If we knew the return of Jesus was going to be in our lifetime, we’d be more serious about telling others about Him. I’ve read some statistics that suggest most Christians never share their faith with others.
We would give away more money. If we lived like Jesus was coming back any day, we wouldn’t need to save for retirement or plan our estates to leave money to others. (I’m creating a scenario, not promoting irresponsibility.) We would give everything away, like they did in the first-century Church, to advance the cause of Christ.
We would send more missionaries and plant more churches. If we lived like Jesus is returning soon, we would feel the urgency of getting the gospel out to as many people as quickly as possible.
An article in Christianity Today cited a report by Bruce McNichol that among evangelical churches, those under three years in age reach, on average, ten people for Christ for every 100 members in a given year. Churches between three and 15 years old reach five people per year for every 100 members. Churches over 15 years old reach three people per year for every 100 members. According to the article, “Ninety percent of all churches reach their peak in attendance, outreach, and giving by their 12th birthday.”
As the simple graph above indicates, in a study of Anglo churches from 1987-89, it was discovered that new churches baptized 13 people for every 100 members. In another study, it was noted that churches ten years old or older average 2.5 baptisms per year, per 100 members, and churches ten years old or younger average 10.8 baptisms per year, per 100 members.  These statistics demonstrate the lifecycle of churches. As a general rule, new churches win more people to Christ.
So, why aren’t we planting more churches? We must examine two issues to fully address this question. First, it takes money to plant a church—a lot of money, especially if we target demographic areas with little evangelical witness. Second, it takes church planters willing to go to the hard places and dig something out of nothing. Church planting is hard work. It is not for the lazy or the weak of heart. If we had more of these two things, we could plant more churches.
At Home Missions, we have renewed our commitment to the cause and hope you will renew yours as well. We will work hard to plant new churches across America. We are in the process of developing new strategies and models to help us be more effective in our current situation. We will work to understand our context better and utilize our resources to develop programs and training that will better equip those we send. Would you pray with us that God will open the wallets of our people and send us men who are willing to plant, water, cultivate, and reap the harvest?
To give financially to Home Missions or to learn how to become a church planter, visit www.homemissions.net. The fields ARE ripe. Jesus IS coming soon. We need YOU to partner with us to win as many as we can before it’s too late.
About the Writer: Brad Ransom is director of church planting for Free Will Baptist Home Missions. Learn more: www.homemissions.net.
1 “Churches Die With Dignity,” Christianity Today, January 14, 1991, p. 69